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If you have children of different ages it’s not always easy keeping everyone entertained at the same time. If you’re looking for tips for keeping the peace, you’ll find plenty on our page on managing multiple children. And if you’re after ways to keep them busy and active, here are some games to play indoors that are best with a few players.

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Things to do indoors

Tip #1: Make a band

Keep the kids busy before dinner by seeing if they want to make a "band". Give them some pots and pans and ask if they can come up with a song. You can also get them to make shakers with water bottles full of rice, lentils or other dried pulses. You could even have a go at making a guitar using recycled materials and elastic bands – this page on the BBC website shows you how. If the band wants to play live, how about a doorstep performance for the neighbours?

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Tip #2: Modelling clay

Kids of different ages can enjoy creating different things with play dough. It’s a nice way to keep them entertained when you’re making tea as you can get them all round the kitchen table and chat to them about what they’re doing. And if you get 5 minutes, you can ask each of them what artistic masterpiece they’d like you to make for them from the dough! Don’t have any play dough? Here’s a recipe from the BBC for making your own.

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Tip #3: Artist's studio

Photo and children drawing at kitchen table

Children of different ages can all enjoy some creative time together. Give them some paper and crayons or pencils, and ask them each to create a "menu" for dinner, a lovely rainbow or a picture of their favourite day – or just whatever they feel like! It’s another good way to keep them all busy at the table while you’re trying to cook, and you can chat to them about what they’re drawing.

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Tip #4: Stair boules

This is a good game for a rainy day. Put a small ball at the bottom of the stairs. Each player has a softer ball or a screwed up piece of paper with their name on it. Everyone takes it in turns to roll their ball down the stairs. Whoever gets closest to the small ball is the winner. Don’t have stairs? This game works just as well on a flat floor.

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Tip #5: Walk the plank

Set up a ‘plank’ for everyone to walk along – this could be a folded towel or blanket. Everyone has to walk along it and stand on one leg at the end – or do another pose of your choice. Time to channel your inner gymnast!

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Tip #6: Cardboard box game

Find a clean cardboard box – a cereal packet is ideal. Everyone takes it in turn to pick up the box with their teeth without letting any part of body their body touch the floor (except their feet of course!)  Every time a player manages to pick up the box, they rip part of it away, so that it gets smaller – and the game gets harder.

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Tip #7: Scavenger hunt

Make a list of things you can find in the house or garden and write them down on cards or bits of paper. Here are some ideas:

  • something you think is treasure
  • something red
  • something heavy
  • something ugly.

Play individually or wee ones team up with grown ups or older kids. Each team gets dealt 3 cards and it’s then a race to get back to the starting point with your three things. Rule – you can’t collect anything living like insects! 

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Tip #8: Reading together

Sharing books and reading is a great way of calming everyone down. The Scottish Book Trust’s Home Activities Hub has ideas for all ages. Older kids can help wee ones sing songs and rhymes, then explore videos featuring award-winning authors like Malorie Blackman and Michael Rosen. 

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Tip #9: Sardines

This reverse version of hide and seek is an old family favourite. One person hides and everyone else looks for them. But when they find them, they must hide with them – so be prepared to squeeze up! The last person to find everyone has to hide next.

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More ideas

You can find more ideas for keeping kids active on the Actify website.

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